D’Tigress point guard, Promise Amukamara, says she’s delighted the team managed to put up a good performance and pick a ticket for the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup despite the adversity they faced before travelling for the recently-concluded qualifying tournament in Serbia.
The World Cup holds from September 22 to October 1 in Australia.
Mali who were bottom of the log started the game the brighter side, taking the first quarter 22-20 but the second and third quarters belonged to D’Tigress, who won 22-13, 22-9 but the Malians mounted a comeback that saw them almost take the game into overtime, but the Nigerians held on as their West African foes won the final quarter 25-9, but it proved too late.
Forward Amy Okonkwo led D’Tigress in scoring with 14 points, with four rebounds, one assist and one steal in 21 minutes on the court, while Atonye Nyingifa and Nicole Enabosi contributed 11 points each.
Point guard Amukamara led the team with eight assists and also contributed 10 points and two steals.
The team shot 46.5 per cent from the two-point line, and scored 30 per cent from beyond the arc.
Reacting to the qualification for the World Cup and their performance, Amukamara said she’s happy with the team’s overall performance, despite their troubles.
“This tournament was really special for us; we battled a lot of adversity before coming here (Serbia). We had Ezinne Kalu’s injury, so I knew I had to step up,” Kalu said at the post-match press conference.
“Hats off to Mali, they played an incredible game. They played hard and we blew a 20-point lead but I’m proud of every one of us for getting the win.”
Head coach Otis Hughley hailed his players for their resilience.
“I think fatigue set in, and having just one point guard really made it tough,” Hughley said.
“Fighting a team who were in survival mode and those are very dangerous people. You can’t protect yourself from folks like that when you’re not fully up to spare but our girls were mentally tough to still win.
“Promise (Amukamara) had eight assists, and two fouls early in the game. Hats off to Mali and their effort. The coach did an unbelievable job but our girls took the biggest punch and still won and they will be in Sydney and we’re just happy about that.”